Archive: Dec 2023

What To Look For in a Metal Etching Manufacturer

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Metal etching also known as chemical etching or photochemical machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that removes material from metal sheets to create intricate patterns, designs, or components. It allows you to produce complex shapes or create fine details without the need for traditional machining processes, like milling or stamping. This process is designed for various industries where high precision and fine details are crucial, including electronics, aerospace, medical, and automotive.

However, metal etchings resulting component is only as good as the manufacturer. Thus, is crucial to choose the right partner to guarantee your project’s success.

MET Manufacturing Group prides itself on setting the industry standard for precision manufacturing since 1988. We specialize in cutting-edge photochemical etching on various metals, from high-conductivity coppers to robust spring steels. Below, we discuss key factors to look at when selecting a metal etching partner and the top reasons why MET Manufacturing Group is the best choice for businesses in various industries.

Things To Consider When Choosing a Metal Etching Partner

A good metal etching partner can help streamline your process. Here are several key factors to consider when making this important choice:

1. Expertise and Experience

Look for a company with a proven track record and a wealth of experience in metal etching. An experienced manufacturer is more likely to have encountered diverse challenges and is better equipped to handle complex projects with precision. From the quote phase to final order delivery, you should feel a sense of professionalism, support, and confidence when working with your etching provider.

2. Technological Capabilities

Metal etching processes have evolved with advancements in technology. A reputable manufacturer should invest in state-of-the-art equipment and technology to ensure accuracy and efficiency in the etching process. The common manufacturer of etching equipment is Chemcut Corporation, who has been manufacturing etching equipment since 1956.In addition, your etching partner should have robust inspection equipment to certify the products being produced. MET utilizes Keyence measurement technologies that allow for accurate and quick dimensional conformity.

3. Material Compatibility

Different projects may require the use of specific metals or alloys. Ensure that the metal etching manufacturer you choose has expertise in working with the materials relevant to your application. In addition the manufacturer should have accessibility to the right materials required along with using reputable material sources. Shoot for companies to lean on RoHS and DFARS compliant materials. The right partner should also be able to handle the rare materials required by your project or offer guidance on the best options to consider.

4. Quality Control Measures

Quality control ensures that each component meets the desired specifications. Inquire about the manufacturer’s quality assurance procedures, including inspection processes, testing protocols, and adherence to industry standards. A reliable metal etching company will have comprehensive steps in place to deliver consistently high-quality products. Seek a partner who is ISO 9001:2015 certified. This common industry standard displays the company complies to a standard that will allow for a positive customer experience and ensures the demands of your project will be met at all levels of delivery, from prototype to production.

5. Customization Options and Value Added Services

Every project is unique, and customization may be a critical factor in your decision-making process. A reputable metal etching manufacturer can offer tailored solutions to your design and size requirements. The value added services are also important as you may want to utilize a service like selective plating or forming as your project evolves. Work with a manufacturer who has the bandwidth to offer these valuable services and drive the best performance to your product.

6. Customer Reviews and Testimonials

Before finalizing your decision, research customer reviews and testimonials to determine the satisfaction levels of past clients. Positive feedback and success stories can provide valuable insights into the manufacturer’s reliability, professionalism, and overall capability.

Why Choose MET Manufacturing Group

MET Manufacturing Group is a trusted name in the industry. In addition to the above core qualities, here are unique factors that set us apart:

Great Value on Price vs. Quality

MET Manufacturing Group emphasizes delivering unparalleled value, striking the perfect balance between competitive pricing and uncompromised quality. This commitment ensures that clients receive exceptional metal etching services without breaking the bank.

Dynamic and Experienced Engineering Team

We boast a dynamic and experienced engineering team trained in the latest programs, projects, and designs. The team’s proficiency and adaptability play a crucial role in overcoming challenges, offering innovative solutions, and successfully realizing clients’ intricate design specifications. Our engineering team interfaces directly with our customers to deliver the results you expect from your project.

Short Lead Times

MET Manufacturing Group takes pride in its ability to provide short lead times, with a typical turnaround of 3-4 weeks. This ensures that you meet project deadlines and ensures a streamlined transition from design to the production phase.

Fast Customer Service

Our team understands the importance of responsive and efficient customer service throughout the project lifecycle. We are committed to fostering a seamless and transparent client experience, from providing quick quotes to prompt acknowledgments, timely invoicing, and clear customer communications. MET performs daily quote review with typical quote turnaround times of 24-48 hours.

Convenient Midwest Location

Situated in the heart of the Midwest, MET Manufacturing Group offers a strategic location that facilitates convenient shipping to either coast via UPS or FedEx. This ensures reliable and cost-effective product delivery while providing accessibility and ease of collaboration with clients nationwide.

Redefine Your Metal Etching Projects With MET Manufacturing Group

At MET Manufacturing Group, we have a rich background in serving multiple industries across the country. Our goal is to constantly exceed client expectations and industry standards in quality, cost, and delivery. If you don’t have a design in mind, we also have an Etching Design Guide to optimize your project for success. With our ISO 9001:2015 certification and American Systems Registrar accreditation, we guarantee only the best solutions for your needs.

If you have questions about our offerings, contact us or request a quote now!

Photochemical Etching for Nickel Alloy

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Click to ExpandPhotochemical Etching for Nickel Alloy

Photochemical etching is a precise and efficient manufacturing process producing intricate patterns and shapes on nickel alloy shim stock sheets. This manufacturing technique, also known as chemical milling or photochemical machining, involves selectively removing material from a metal sheet using a combination of photoresist masking and etching solution. The process is highly controlled and allows for complex, detailed components with tight tolerances.

This article shares insight on the benefits of nickel alloys and why photochemical etching is ideal for creating complex and intricate patterns on nickel based materials. Also included below are common applications of photochemically etched nickel components.

Benefits of Nickel Alloy

Nickel alloy combines nickel and other elements, such as iron, copper, chromium, and other metals. This alloying process enhances the properties of nickel, making it suitable for a wide range of applications in multiple industries. Nickel alloys exhibit unique chemical and physical characteristics, making them particularly valuable in manufacturing and engineering.

Commonly etched nickel alloys include – Nickel 200/201, Cupro Nickel, Nickel Silver 770, Monel, Invar, Kovar, Inconel, and Alloy 42 and 46.

Here are some key characteristics of nickel alloys:

  • Anti-corrosion: Nickel alloys are known for their exceptional resistance to corrosion and oxidation. This property makes them suitable for harsh environments, such as chemical processing, marine applications, and aerospace.
  • High temperature resistance: Nickel alloys can maintain their mechanical properties at elevated temperatures, making them ideal for applications where exposure to high heat is a consideration.
  • Strength and toughness: Depending on the specific alloying elements, nickel alloys can exhibit high durability. This makes them valuable in applications such as industrial equipment manufacturing and machinery production.
  • Electrical conduction and magnetism: Some nickel alloys have excellent electrical conductivity and magnetic properties. These characteristics make them suitable for electrical components, electronic devices, and magnetic applications.
  • Resistance to creep and fatigue: Nickel alloys are suitable for components in high-stress environments. They often have good resistance to gradual deformation due to constant load at high temperatures and the weakening of material from cyclic loading.

Advantages of Photochemical Etching for Nickel Alloy

Photochemical etching for nickel alloy offers several advantages, making it a preferred method in various industries. Here are some key benefits:

  • Cost-effective: This manufacturing method helps minimize material wastage due to its selective and targeted processing. This can result in significant cost savings over traditional machining, especially for intricate and complex designs.
  • Burr- and stress-free: The resulting nickel alloy components have smooth edges without the burrs or mechanical stresses commonly associated with traditional machining methods. The finished parts typically require minimal additional processing or finishing, contributing to efficiency in the production process.
  • Complex geometries: This process provides a level of detail that may be challenging to achieve through other manufacturing methods. Thus, it is well-suited for producing components with complex geometries, including fine meshes, intricate patterns, and microscale features.
  • No Heat Affected Zone: Photochemical etching is heat and stress free, so the super alloy properties of nickel silver are not compromised during manufacturing.

Nickel Photochemical Etching Applications

Nickel etching finds diverse applications across various industries, delivering intricate components with exceptional accuracy:

1. Aerospace

Nickel photochemical etching manufactures intricate components such as turbine blades, heat exchangers, and aerospace connectors. The process’ ability to produce complex shapes and patterns ensures optimal performance in demanding aviation environments.

2. Electronics and Microelectronics

The process allows for the creation of precise patterns at a microscopic level, contributing to the efficiency and miniaturization of electronic devices. It is used to produce circuit boards, lead frames, and connectors.

3. Healthcare

Nickel photochemical etching finds applications in manufacturing medical devices such as stents, catheters, and surgical instruments. The technique enables the production of customized components, ensuring the highest standards in medical equipment.

4. Automotive

Photochemical etching for nickel alloys is increasingly employed in the automotive industry for manufacturing parts such as fuel cell plates, precision gaskets, and sensors. Its ability to produce intricate shapes and patterns with tight tolerances contributes to automotive systems’ overall efficiency and performance.

5. Microfluidic Devices

In microfluidics, where manipulating small amounts of fluids is crucial, nickel photochemical etching is utilized to create small scale channels and structures. This is particularly valuable in the development of lab-on-a-chip devices for applications in healthcare and analytical chemistry.

Discover the MET Advantage for Nickel Photochemical Etching

Since 1988, MET Manufacturing Group has been a trusted name in precision manufacturing. Our commitment to exceeding customer expectations in quality, delivery, and cost has made us an industry leader. We specialize in handling etching projects of all sizes, from small prototypes to large production orders.

Our state-of-the-art processes and quality control measures guarantee that each product meets the rigorous standards set by MET Manufacturing Group. With ISO 9001:2015 and RoHS certification and accreditation from the American Systems Registrar (ASR), we are dedicated to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

Contact us or request a quote today to learn how we can elevate your project to new heights!

Design Guide Photochemical Etching: A Complete Guide to Engineering a Photochemically Etched Part

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Photochemical etching is a manufacturing technique that uses chemical reactions to accurately remove a material from a metal sheet. A photosensitive mask, known as photoresist, is applied to a metallic surface, protecting areas where material is to be retained. The sheet is then exposed to UV light and put through a development process which hardens the masked portions. Lastly, the unprotected metal is dissolved from the frame, leaving behind the desired part or component.

Accurate design is crucial in etching to ensure precise material removal and achieve the intended component specifications. Any discrepancies can lead to errors in the final product, affecting its functionality and compromising the overall quality of the etched component. Here are different design principles and guidelines to guarantee optimal results:

1. Tolerances

Standard rules on tolerances are pivotal in achieving consistent outcomes across different manufacturing scales. In the early stages of product development, a tolerance of ±20% of the metal thickness balances precision and flexibility. This allows for iterative adjustments without compromising the feasibility of the etching process.

Given the variable nature of prototype development, designers should be prepared to refine tolerances based on feedback from the initial runs. This adaptability ensures that subsequent iterations meet evolving design specifications. Prototyping also often involves smaller batch sizes, and the tolerance choice should align with cost considerations.

As designs transition from prototyping to full-scale production, it is advisable to tighten tolerances. While ±20% might be suitable for prototypes, high-volume manufacturing runs benefit from stricter controls to ensure consistent part quality.

2. Center-to-Center Dimensions

Center-to-center dimensions refer to the distance between the central points of two adjacent features, such as holes, slots, or other geometric elements. Small pieces benefit from photochemical etching to closely match the dimensions outlined in the production design. Due to certain limitations in preparation, practical tolerances are essential to guide the manufacturing process.

3. Hole Size and Slot Width

As a general rule, the hole’s diameter or the slot’s width should not be less than 1.2 times the metal thickness. This guideline prevents over-etching and material distortion, which may arise if the features are too small relative to the object. Adhering to this helps maintain the mechanical strength of the metal and ensures consistent results in the etching process.

4. Line Width

Line widths must equal the thickness when working with metals less than 0.005” thick to prevent distortion. For objects wider than 0.005”, the guideline recommends line widths of at least 1.2 times the metal thickness. This relationship ensures that the etching process proceeds without sacrificing the structural strength of the metal and results in accurate and reliable components.

5. Corner Radius and Hole Configurations

The following are several considerations to enhance the reproducibility and reliability of the components:

Inside Corner Radius

Sharp inside corners can be challenging to achieve and may lead to material distortion or irregularities during etching. Therefore, utilize adequate inside corner radii to facilitate smoother etching and prevent stress concentrations.

Outside Corner Radius

Maintain sufficient outside corner radii to prevent undercutting, a phenomenon where the etchant erodes the metal beyond the desired edge. Adequate external radii contribute to a more controlled etching process, ensuring the part retains its intended shape.

Hole Configurations

Consider the design’s hole arrangement and configuration. Proper separation between these features prevents material bridging and ensures each hole is etched individually. This is especially important in designs with many slots or similar elements.

6. Bevels

Bevels in photochemical etching refer to the slope produced on the walls of holes or along the metal edge during the process. The general approach is to either etch equally from both sides or entirely from one side for simplicity. Designers can vary the depth to create more bevels on one side when a two-side carve is necessary.

The variation is quantified by specifying the percentage of etch from each side. For example, a 90/10 number denotes 90% etching from one side and 10% from the other. Given the complexity of this operation, the indicated percentage of etch allows for some leeway. This will account for the practical challenges of getting accurate bevels.

7. Tie-Ins or Tabs

Tie-ins or tabs extend one or more lines from a part to the metal border. Their size and quantity are generally minimized unless specified otherwise. This practice maintains the structural integrity of the part during the etching process. In cases where the parts are exceptionally small, tabs aid in stripping photoresist or facilitating plating operations.

Choose MET Manufacturing Group for High-Quality Etching Services

MET Manufacturing Group is your one-stop shop for high-precision sheet metal components made possible by photochemical etching! Our expertise lies in delivering meticulously crafted metal parts, ensuring accuracy and adherence to your design specifications. What sets us apart is our comprehensive suite of value-added services, covering every aspect of your project’s needs.

Contact us or request a quote today!